MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Northeast berry growers are learning ways to combat an invasive fruit fly that wiped out 80 percent of some farms’ late-season fruit two years ago, forcing some small growers out of business.
The tiny spotted wing drosophila arrived in the U.S. from Asia in 2008 and turned up in the Northeast in 2011.
The pest tends to make its way to New England and New York in mid-August and lays eggs in blueberries and raspberries.
Many farms are picking the berries as soon as they ripen or even before and refrigerating them to prevent damage. Other growers are spraying fruit with an organic or conventional insecticide and switching to earlier season varieties. Some smaller growers are experimenting with placing fine insect netting over late-season berries.